HackTheHearst Mentor Guidelines

Technical and subject matter mentors act as floating resources for the duration of the hackathon, and help teams define workflow, generate ideas, problem-solve, and develop final presentations (cribbed from Geeks Without Bounds).

Mentors are free to communicate among themselves as questions or observations of interest occur. The organizers would be glad to see mentors gain insight from their participation—whether on technical issues, hackathon dynamics, or about the Hearst Museum collections information.

In your role as a mentor for the HackTheHearst Hackathon, the organizers suggest you keep the following in mind:

  1. Be available for participants. Participants will contact mentors they believe will be able to address their questions (on the basis of mentor bios, relationships formed at the kickoff event, etc.). Responding to teams’ questions is not a 24/7 responsibility, but please check the communication channels you’ve listed regularly, and get back to participants in a reasonable timeframe. The teams have 11 days to complete their work, so a response within one day would be appreciated—even if that response is to let participants know that you can help them out but can’t respond in detail until <fill in your timeframe here>.

  2. Offer what you know. It’s better to acknowledge not knowing than to point teams down a wrong or sub-optimal path. Your advice about reliable online sources of information might be as or more valuable to participants as answers to their specific question—whether of technical information or of information to do with the Hearst Museum and/or the Hearst’s digital collections information, especially if you’re not sure. Feel free to refer teams to another mentor if you know that s/he is better suited to answer a given question.

  3. Don’t join a team, you are not a hackathon participant. Tempting as it might be to dash off a few lines of code, or a couple of paragraphs for a team’s website "About" page, please curb your enthusiasm! Pointers, reference to examples, advice about design are all in-bounds. Contributing to the team’s actual work product is not the role of a mentor.

  4. Share questions and answers. To the degree possible, we would like all teams to benefit from questions asked and answered in team/mentor interactions. Mentors are strongly encouraged to summarize questions/answers for posting to the whole group of participants. As we get close to the kickoff date, hackathon organizers will announce how information is to be shared among participants, and how mentors should publish to the selected platform.